Australia’s ClubsNSW Reforms Slot Machine Operations, Opponents Scoff

Australia’s ClubsNSW Reforms Slot Machine Operations, Opponents Scoff

Posted on: January 30, 2023, 02:05h.

Last updated on: 30 January 2023, 02:32h.

ClubsNSW, the representative body for registered clubs and bars in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, has released an updated code of practice ahead of expected reforms to the gambling industry. However, some anti-gambling experts call it nothing more than a publicity stunt and a smoke screen.

The Sydney Opera House and Sydney skyline in New South Wales, Australia. The state will hold elections in March, and a trade group representing gambling properties is trying to avoid major government reforms. (Image: Pinterest)

The code, which the organization was due to implement in July, seeks to implement a number of changes. It’s all about self-regulation and comes amid a potential major shake-up of gambling in NSW and Australia.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has proposed a cashless card system he wants to implement across Australia. Opposition parties have shown varying degrees of support for the plan. ClubsNSW is opposed to this as it believes it will have a negative impact on its members’ livelihoods. Cashless games are notably one of the items the organization left out of its new code.

Targeting recreational gamblers

The topic of problem gambling continues to be a hot topic in politics as NSW prepares for its elections. As lawmakers face increasing pressure to address the state’s problem with gambling, political parties have declared they will introduce significant reforms after the election.

Gamblers in the state lose about AUD1 million (US$705,900) every hour to pokie machines, according to some limited surveys by the anti-gambling camp. However, according to Gamble Aware, the “problem gambling” rate in the state is only 1%.

ClubsNSW knows that changes are coming – whether through sweeping federal regulations or specific changes to NSW rules and regulations. That’s why it hopes it can kick off a massive rewrite of the gaming industry by introducing its own reforms.

Among these, the group recommends performing welfare checks on gamblers every three hours. It also wants each of its member facilities to appoint a responsible gaming officer.

Additionally, the properties must not allow suspected criminals inside their premises. They must also prevent known problem gamblers from entering.

If ClubsNSW thought the introduction of the code of conduct would be enough to stave off reforms at government level, it was wrong. Responding to the announcement, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said that should his party win the March election, he has a new plan he will introduce. However, mandatory cashless games may not be one of the requirements.

The Sydney Morning Herald was not supportive either. It said ClubsNSW should have already implemented the recommendations without relying on a major upheaval of gambling in Australia before acting.

Perrottet’s plan is the only plan

Outspoken anti-gambling expert and parliamentarian Andrew Wilkie is putting the whole of Australia on notice. In his estimation, accepting Perrottet’s cashless game plan is the only option. Any government that does not do this, he says, is not fit to lead the people.

Wilkie has spent years trying to get Australia to see gambling through his eyes, despite overwhelming support to the contrary. Now, with NSW reforms less than two months away and casino operators not following the rules, he is likely to get more support.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Wilkie called it a “watershed moment” for NSW, as well as for the country. He added that any government that supports gambling addiction to generate revenue is a “morally bankrupt government”.

It shouldn’t matter to Wilkie or anyone else how consumers spend their money. The amount they push through slot machines and casino gaming tables is irrelevant.

Australia claims to have one of the highest percentages of gambling spending, but only a 1% rate of problem gambling. It shows that many people focus a lot of energy on something that is not a problem.

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